The world's forests are the focus of international attention because of the many environmental issues being discussed today. In order to understand what is truly happening to our forest land, we need to monitor the resources to measure change and to predict change. Monitoring is the periodic observation of selected parameters for quantifying changes over time. We often use remote sensing and permanent plots to monitor changes in the forest resource base.
In order to share data and experiences among scientists in various parts of the world and to compare inventory data across regions, some form of international guidance is urgently needed. The purpose of these guidelines is to promote standardized or compatible collection and reporting of selected data for forest monitoring through cooperation in such a way that the results offer a common data base for research and management. We envisage that the results of individual forest resources surveys following these guidelines, would be transmitted to a global data base or made part of a network maintained by the United Nations. Contributors to the network would have access to the data base for the benefit of the designs of new surveys and assessments.